A GOVERNMENT pledge to protect the green belt will not alter future house building plans in Redditch.
Campaigners had hoped new guidance from communities secretary Eric Pickles would boost their fight to overturn proposals to build 2,800 new homes on green belt land around Foxlydiate and Bentley in neighbouring Bromsgrove District. Together with 600 homes earmarked around Weights Lane, a total of 184 hectares of green belt is being released for the development.
Another 29.17 hectares of Redditch’s 1,830 hectares of green belt land is being removed to accommodate the 3,000 new homes within the borough as part of Redditch Borough Council’s Local Plan 4.
The sites were chosen because they were deemed not to play any significant part in protecting towns, cities or villages from merging together, did not contribute to urban sprawl and would protect the countryside from any further development, in line with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.
But Mr Pickles has now issued new guidance which states once established, green belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan. Councils have also been told the need for houses should not justify harming the green belt through inappropriate development.
“This government has been very clear that when planning for new buildings, protecting our precious green belt must be paramount. Local people don’t want to lose their countryside to urban sprawl, or the vital green lungs around their towns and cities to unnecessary development.”
But any hopes the new rules would alter the proposals for Redditch have been dashed by planners.
A spokeswoman for Redditch Borough Council said the Government was stating green belt boundaries should be considered during the local plan process which they were already doing.
“The Government is providing more protection to green belts if applications are received on green belt land that the council, through its plan making, wants to protect.”
Malcolm Glainger, from Bentley Action Group, branded Mr Pickles’ comments empty rhetoric.
“In the context of building 3,400 homes in the Bromsgrove green belt this will have no effect whatsoever, these utterances from government are entirely irrelevant.”